The Maldives’ new president, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, met Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday, seeking more investment and tourists amid a souring of ties with India.
Xi hailed the two countries’ cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative since he visited Malé, the Maldivian capital, in 2014. “Under the new circumstances, China-Maldives relations are confronted with a historic opportunity to build on past achievements and forge ,” Xi added during their summit, aired by state broadcaster CCTV.
Minister Faisal, who is part of Mohamed Muizzu’s ongoing state visit to China,, stated that they are discussing ways to allow direct flights to the Maldives from various provinces of China.
“Now, that we have been assured by one of the airlines on the topic of direct flights to Maldives and the subsequent meeting with the Chinese minister of commerce, we plan to meet the Tourism Minister soon to explore on the matter and we look forward to work with them and are hopeful of direct flights being facilitated,” Faisal said.
Tourism Minister of the Maldives, Ibrahim Faisal also highlighted that china used to be the highest tourist contributor to Maldives prior to the Covid pandemic, and hopes to raise the Chinese visitor count by an additional 40%.
He also stated that Tourism Ministry, MMPRC and the entire tourism sector are planning to organize a fair in China for the local airlines in a joint venture to attract more tourists to Maldives.
“This fair will be a great opportunity for foreigner’s investing in Maldivian resorts to meet and establish better ties with our local airlines. I am also quite positive on setting a new milestone for number of Chinese tourists as a result of this convention. And there’s a possibility of increasing the count of available airlines as well” Faisal said.
“The main issue we are facing is that of the price, as the current fair is a bit steep. If we can work with local(china) airlines to bring the price down, we will be able to bump up the tourist count to an unprecedented level”
Faisal pointed out that china’s New Year is right ahead and if managed properly, we can expect a boon in tourism industry during the upcoming period.
Muizzu’s trip to China contrary to the customary first stop in India was already seen as a sign of the Maldives’ tilt toward China and away from India, both of which seek to influence the strategically situated Indian Ocean archipelago. The tour coincided with a major While President Muizzu was making vows to diversify tourism products and offer novel experiences in a bid to attract travellers from China (at a forum held in Fuzhou on Tuesday), several Indian Businesses shave been pushing for a boycott of the islands, known for their idyllic resorts, over a diplomatic row credited to a few Maldivian ministers’ tweets disparaging the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi amidst his recent public stunt.